First, this is an introductory list, so if you hear your stylist at a boutique say a crazy name that you don’t recognize, don’t panic! Secondly, some of these terms are general categories that you hear most commonly in boutiques. Designers may simplify the name of the fabric from the original mill to make talking fabrics more universally understood. It’s rare to have exclusive fabrics, so you may find some crossover between designers.
Tulle / English Netting
Tulle is usually seen on A-line, Sheath and Ballgowns.
Pros: Light and airy, can be more casual, creates volume without being heavy, very breathable, travels well, and easy to steam.
Cons: Often needs to be adjusted during pictures, gets easily caught on things outdoors, and can tear.
Chiffon is usually seen on A-line and Sheath.
Pros: Super light and dreamy, can make for the coolest wind pictures, breathable, silky smooth and comfortable, travels well, and easy to steam.
Cons: Can be see-through if not properly lined, doesn’t hold shape or volume, shows fabric runs, and stains fairly easily.
Organza is usually seen on A-line, Sheath and Ballgowns.
Pros: Similar to chiffon, light, breathable, but tends to hold more shape and volume, travels well, and is somewhat easy to steam.
Cons: Can be see-through if not properly lined.
Lace can be seen on every silhouette (A-line, ballgown, fitted, etc.). The beautiful
thing about this textile is that there is truly a lace for every wedding vibe.
Pros: So much variety, can be paired with every single fabric on this list, can be left plain or embellished to fit your style.
Cons: Can be itchy if it’s made inexpensively, soft laces can snag & pill easily, and normally not super stretchy.
Satin can be seen in every silhouette.
Pros: Very classic fabric, smooth to the touch, falls & lays beautifully for photos, gives glossy effect without bling or embellishment.
Cons: Hot and heavy and hard to steam out creases.
Mikado can be seen in every silhouette. The twin sister to satin,
but tends to be a little bit more breathable
Pros: Easier to steam & keep from wrinkling, tends to be stiffer and holds volume and structure a little better, but still keeps the shine.
Cons: Still heavier and hotter than other options.
Crepe & Georgette can be seen in Sheath, fitted and most recently, A-lines.
Pros: Super soft & comfortable, some versions can be stretchy, and it’s a clean, modern fabric and easier to travel with than others.
Cons: Shows everything unless lined & draped properly, massive variety in quality, easily shows stains, can be tough to steam out depending on quality.
Silk vs. Polyester
While both are fabrics, think of them as larger categories. For example, you can
have a “silk satin” and you can have a “polyester satin” as well.
Silk: A fine, strong, soft, lustrous fiber produced by silkworms in making cocoons and collected to make thread and fabric. Silk tends to be more expensive (& luxurious) as it’s a natural fiber & often costly to produce. Silk is also an imperfect fabric because it is naturally produced. You will find that independent designers use silk more often than some of the larger design houses.
- Polyester: A synthetic resin in which the polymer units are linked by ester groups, used chiefly to make synthetic textile fibers. Polyester is a man-made fiber & amore affordable fabric fiber often seen in gowns made overseas.
● If you are looking for a lower price point, stay away from silk.
● If you are looking to splurge on the biggest day of your life, go with silk. You’ll feel like you’re wearing pajamas, while also feeling like a queen!
It’s easy to get hung up on the details and focus too much on, for example, the few distracting leaves on a lace pattern. Trust us, we get how overwhelming it can be. There are thousands of fabrics, & millions of dresses. These tools are intended to help you be an open-minded & knowledgeable consumer who is ready to make an educated decision on your dream dress; not to sway you one way or another before you try any dress on. Enjoy every minute of your Dress Hunt!